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Wikipedia edited by "bots"

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Woah, what?


I thought all along that we had actual people with pulses that would log in to edit Wikipedia articles. No we have bots doing the editing for us. That says alot about the content we are reading on this site.



24 July 2012 Last updated at 20:07 ET


Meet the 'bots' that edit Wikipedia


By Daniel Nasaw BBC News Magazine, Washington



Continue reading the main story


Wikipedia is written and maintained by tens of thousands of volunteers across the world. Those, in turn, are assisted by hundreds of "bots" - autonomous computer programmes that keep the encyclopaedia running.


"Penis is the male sex organ," the Wikipedia page in question read.


While that statement is undeniably true and thus may merit inclusion in Wikipedia, it belongs nowhere in the site's article on national supreme courts and their legal roles.


When an anonymous Wikipedia reader in South Carolina offered that contribution to the globally popular online encyclopaedia last week, it took just seconds for the blemish to be discovered and deleted.


The vandalism was caught not by a reader, but by a simple artificial intelligence programme called a bot - short for robot.


Virtually invisible


ClueBot NG, as the bot is known, resides on a computer from which it sallies forth into the vast encyclopaedia to detect and clean up vandalism almost as soon as it occurs.


It is one of several hundred bots patrolling Wikipedia at any given time. Its role in repairing the Supreme Court article illustrates how bots have quietly become an indispensable - if virtually invisible - part of the Wikipedia project.


"Wikipedia would be a shambles without bots," a Wikipedia administrator known on the site as Hersfold writes in an email.


English Wikipedia alone surpassed four million articles this month. It contains an estimated 2.5 billion words, equivalent to millions of pages, and it is 50 times larger than the Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Wikipedia is maintained across all languages by tens of thousands of editors - about 77,000 of whom make more than five edits a month.


But the project is so vast, and its maintenance so labour-intensive that it defies the capability of its human administrators and editors to keep it in order.

Zapping wiki-vandals


That is where the bots come in.


"We had a joke that one day all the bots should go on strike just to make everyone appreciate how much work they do," says Chris Grant, a 19-year-old student in Perth, Australia who is on the Wikipedia committee that supervises the bots.


Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk...gazine-18892510

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OK I don't like that bots are getting so much attention, since they're supposed to be behind the scenes. Yes there are plenty of bots, who do mostly mundane anti-vandalism/mistake-correction tasks, as well as update pages en masse for template changes. But if everyone knew it was likely a bot who reverted their edit or tagged their file for deletion, they wouldn't be happy...

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